Picture for representation
Picture for representation Reuters

The photographs of people posing next to a dead tiger that went viral on social media are being investigated by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan), Malaysian officials said last week.

"We take a serious view of this matter and have ordered a probe to be carried out to check the authenticity of the images," said Perhilitan director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim on 14 October, according to The Straits Times.

"Investigations into the case will be done under Section 68(2)(c) of the Wildlife Protection Act 2010 for hunting tigers without a special permit," he added.

It was reported that the officers have launched a manhunt for those who are responsible and verify where the photo was exactly taken.

Tigers have long been declared as a protected species and in Malaysia, it is illegal to kill them unless it is a life-threatening situation. Offenders breaching this rule could receive a jail sentence of up to five years and a maximum fine of RM500,000 (S$165,000).

Tigers face extinction threat due to habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation and poaching. Tigers are generally hunted for their skin, bones and claws. It is the demand for tiger parts for traditional Chinese medicine that has significantly reduced the number of the big cats in Asia.